NYC Top Comedy Choices for Wednesday 12/14/16

Louis C.K. at Madison Square GardenLouis C.K. is performing his most recent Madison Square Garden show two more times, tonight and Friday at 8:00 pm. I saw this show thanks to Jason Zinoman’s New York Times review, and found Jason’s observations & insights to be spot-on. Louis managed the almost miraculous feat of delivering a vulnerable, intimate performance for 18,000 people, turning them into a single delighted group mind. It was masterful, reminding us of the heights stand-up can reach; and one of the best shows I ever expect to see. (Am hoping it gets turned into an HBO special; but even if that happens, there’s nothing quite like experiencing it live…) To nab tickets, please click here

Kevin Geeks Out About Holiday Specials…or enjoy a glorious collection of hilarious clips and guest TV & movie experts hosted by super-fan Kevin Maher, this month focusing on the various ways TV has handled Xmas: Kevin Geeks Out About Holiday Specials (9:30 pm, $16 [buy in advance, as this show crammed with rich imagery and ideas usually sells out], Brooklyn’s Nitehawk Cinema at 136 Metropolitan Avenue; take the L to Bedford)

More recommendations for the best in New York City comedy tonight (in chronological order, with top picks noted and shows over $10 marked with $) include:

[FREE] Noon: Tim Dillon (Last Comic Standing) performs a long set at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre: Tim Dillon

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($5): Lucie Steiner (wrier for Jon Stewart’s new HBO show), Giulia Rozzi (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening and The Jim Gaffigan Show, Chelsea Lately, writer for MTV’s Girl Code, VH1, Playgirl Magazine, host of First Set, comedy album True Love), Grant Lyon, and more performing stand-up at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street) hosted by Evan Kaufman (genius musical improvisor of Your Love Our Musical and North Coast; VH1): The Sensible Show

7:00 pm-11:00 pm ($7 for the entire evening): Four hours of improv from eight groups—plus a free improv jam at 6:00 pm—at The Magnet theatre: Magnet Megawatt

7:00 pm ($5): “Ella, a 29-year-old divorcee whose only ever slept with one man, wants nothing more than to recover from the pain of her broken marriage and find true love. Luckily, she’s got friends who won’t let that” in this play at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Swipe Left

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm, 9:30 pm, 10:00 pm, and 11:30 pm ($14, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Some of the finest stand-ups in the country spread among three shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) and a 10:00 pm show at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): Comedy Cellar Wednesday

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm ($18): Theatrical readings of comic book tales and comic strips from host R. Sikoryak (Masterpiece Comics) and a bunch of actors and artists at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie Street): Carousel: Cartoon Slide Show

7:30 pm ($5): Expanding the UCB longform improv showcased on Harold Night is this weekly show at UCB East which features three house groups making up scenes on the spot: Lloyd Night

7:30 pm ($7): Stand-ups Chanel Ali, Courtney Reynolds, Usama Siddiquee, and more perform on the theme of Near Death Experiences at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) produced by Shelby Wardlaw and hosted by Dwayne Cullen: Humor Mortis

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($10 plus 2-item food/drink min.): A live taping of a terrific weekly Sirius XM Radio comedy show, with stellar stand-ups Dave Hill, Judy Gold, Robert Kelly, and Sam Morril, plus music from Helio Alves and the Come to Papa Trio, hosted by Tom Papa (host of Jerry Seinfeld-produced NBC comedy The Marriage Ref; numerous appearances on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno; three Comedy Central specials): Come to Papa

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($15): Storytellers Jeff Hiller, John Early, Janelle James, Tracey Segarra, and Jerry Franklin tell tales revolving around a monthly theme at Brooklyn’s The Bell House (149 7th Street) for one of the finest storytelling shows in the country hosted by Kevin Allison (legendary MTV sketch series The State, HBO, Comedy Central, VH1, owner of The Story Studio): Risk!

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($12): An eclectic group of comics & writers—who tonight are James Hamblin (Senior Editor of The Atlantic Magazine; host of video series If Our Bodies Could Talk), Mona Chalabi (data expert writing for FiveThirtyEight), Alexis Coe (historian; author of Alice+Freda Forever), Giulia Rozzi (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening and The Jim Gaffigan Show, Chelsea Lately, writer for MTV’s Girl Code, VH1, Playgirl Magazine, host of First Set, comedy album True Love), and Charla Lauriston (former writer for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; MTV, creator of webseries Clench & Release)—performing stand-up and/or being interviewed at Brooklyn’s Union Hall for this show hosted by recent UK transplants Jon Ronson (New York Times bestselling author of The Men Who Stare At Goats and more; screenwriter; This American Life) and Maeve Higgins (Irish TV & radio star): Cool Kids (Previously Titled “I’m New Here, Can You Show Me Around?”)

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): Comedic storytellers David Lawson (fresh, sharp, edgy storyteller; Solocom; host of The Astoria Bookshop Storytelling Show), Chrissie Mayr, Sean O’Brien, Adam Selbst, and Rebecca Rush tell about awful things they’ve done at Brooklyn’s Over the Eight (594 Union Ave) hosted by Jake Hart (host of The Dump) & Nick Padilla. Please note this is the last show at Over the Eight, as explained by Jake: “Some dumb bitch fell down and got her Manhattan lawyer dad to sue the bar we’ve called home for almost two years into bankruptcy! Yes, I know that’s a person we’d book on this show—fuck you; fuck them; fuck us:” Antagonist Storytelling Series (ASS)

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($8): Comics Michael Wolf (showrunner of MTV series After Hours with Josh Horowitz; sketch comedy groups O.S.F.U.G. and Nancy),Shalewa Sharpe (comedy album Stay Eating Cookies), and Alyssa Limperis get drunk and then compete to present the best scientific dissertation on this month’s subject of Therapy to a genuine scientist at Brooklyn’s Littlefield (622 Degraw Street) hosted by Joanna Rothkopf, Shannon Odell, and Jordan Mendoza: Drunk Science

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Michelle Collins (The View) and friends perform stand-up at the UCB Chelsea theatre: Magic Mich XXL

[FREE] 8:00 pm: Young and/or struggling NYC stand-ups performing at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) produced by Meghan O’Malley, Adrian Davidson, and Erick Hellwig: Barely Making It

8:00 pm ($5): A one-woman show by Helene Ellford that “explores the lives of women who are about to make it big…and once they do, they’ll show us all” at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Everybody Lied to You

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:30 pm ($5 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Sam Morril (Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Half Hour) performs a solo stand-up show at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street): Sam Morril: You’ve Changed

8:30 pm ($5): Matt Barats, Anthony Oberbeck, and Carmen Christopher perform as improv group Postmen at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Postmen

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 9:00 pm: Big Jay Oakerson (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, Louie, Inside Amy Schumer, HBO, Showtime, MTV, IFC; stellar new comedy album Live at Webster Hall), Dave Smith, Luis J. Gomez, and other NYC comics “discussing the skankier sides of life, love, and stand-up comedy” for this weekly podcast taping at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Legion of Skanks

[FREE] 9:00 pm: Sean Donnelly (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Half Hour, Last Comic Standing, MTV), Adam Lowitt (correspondent for The Daily Show), Lori Palminteri (Louie), Anthony DeVito (Adam Devine’s House Party), Rob Ryan, Joe Praino, Courtney Fearrington, and Andrew Heaton performing for this free weekly show at Lucky Jack’s Pub (129 Orchard Street) produced by Kyle Fincham, Lance Weiss, and Brendon Fitzgibbons: Gandhi, Is That You?

9:00 pm ($5): Sasheer Zamata (cast member of Saturday Night Live), Petey Deabreu (host of Petey’s World), Adam Burke (NPR), Grant Lyon, and Jeff Steinbrunner performing stand-up at Brooklyn’s Gutter Bar (200 N 14th Street) hosted by Mike Lebovitz: Comedians You Should Know

9:00 pm ($5): Calvin Cato, Wanjiko Eke, Tracey Carnazzo, Argon Fritz, and Sharron Paul performing at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Chris Gersbeck & Veronica Garza: Everythign Is Dumbn: A Comedy & Music Showcase

9:00 pm ($5): Comedic storytellers tell tales accompanied by videos, with tonight’s guests Caitlin Brodnick, Lauren Maul, and Angel Yau performing at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): hosted by Harmon Leon: Videotale

[TOP PICK] 9:15 pm ($5): The instructors of UCB’s classes include some of the finest improvisors in the country. In this new weekly show a bunch of them get on stage at UCB East hosted by Doug Mo and/or Ben Rameaka: Hot for Teacher: The UCB Faculty Show

[MEGA-TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): Genius comics Scott Adsit (cast member of 30 Rock, and co-writer/director/producer & cast member of Adult Swim’s awesome & Emmy-winning Moral Orel) teams up with fellow 30 Rock actor John Lutz (staff writer for Seth Meyers; previously cast member of 30 Rock, and six years as staff writer for Saturday Night Live) to form a super-smart and hilarious star improv duo that’s become one of the very best attractions at UCB Chelsea and should not be missed: John & Scott

10:00 pm ($10): Kelsey Cook (tours with Jim Norton; Cook’d podcast) performs a long stand-up set, with openers Lauryn Petrie, Kane Holloway, Brian Theriot, and host Jonas Barnes at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Kelsey Cook & Friends

[TOP PICK] 10:15 pm ($5): Improvisors pair up as scene-inventing duos for one night only at the UCB East theatre hosted by comedy giants Dan Hodapp & Natasha Rothwell: Couples Skate

10:30 pm ($5): Booked comics try out stand-up, characters, songs, etc. at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street) hosted by Liz Noth, Jessica Morgan, Erin Bartley, and/or Casey McCormick: First Looks

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): “Every month James Dwyer & Jackie Jennings spend too much time on a big, dumb idea for a show that they will perform once and then never again,” with tonight’s tagline Come Sit on Santa’s Lap at the UCB Chelsea theatre: A Big Dumb Thing

Wednesday Open Mics & Jams

5:00 pm ($5): Two-hour open mic for 20 stand-ups performing for 5 minutes each, with sign-up online here, at the Stand Up NY Comedy Club (236 West 78th Street): Stand Up NY Open Mic

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Walk-in open mic storytelling show, with each yarn-spinner (selected via names from a bucket) getting up to 8 minutes to tell a true and funny tale at Astoria Queens comedy venue QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Vincent Chang: Flynn’s Mic

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Open mic stand-up show that provides each performer whose name is pulled from a bucket 5 minutes on stage at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Kaity Neagle & Irene Hartmann: Ragtag Team Open Mic Stand-Up

6:00 pm (no cover, 1 drink min. for both comics and audience members): Open mic stand-up providing 5-7 minutes per comic, running 2 1/2 hours. Arrive 30 minutes before the show to get on the signup sheet. This is a fine opportunity to perform at the only comedy club in the East Village: Eastville Comedy Club Open Mic

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Open mic stand-up providing 4 minutes per comic. Email PhoningItInMic@gmail.com to sign up, or take a chance at lottery sign-up live between 6:45 and 7:45, at Brooklyn’s Halyards Bar (406 Third Avenue) hosted by Lukas Kaiser: Comics Phoning It In

[FREE] 10:15 pm: Sign up at 5:45 pm for the opportunity to make up scenes at The Magnet with veteran improvisors: Magnet Mixer Wednesday

[FREE] 11:00 pm: Weekly walk-in open mic stand-up providing 3 minutes for each comic whose name is pulled from a bucket (but no actual punch or pie, that’s just a lure to entice you to come) at Queens LIC’s The Creek downstairs lounge hosted by Matthew Tenenbaum: Punch & Pie

[FREE] 11:15 pm: Your opportunity to perform on the stage of UCB East with improv veterans at UCB East hosted by members of improv group Women & Men: Rotisserie Jam

Notable Ongoing Theatrical Comedy Shows

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [$] [DISCOUNTED] 7:30 pm, or 4:30 pm on Sundays, through 1/8/17 ($28-$48; use code PBP30 through 12/17 for $33 tickets, or code BBOX20 anytime for discounts based on seat location): Comedy genius Chris Gethard performs a transcendently great one-man show about depression, perseverance, and the healing powers of laughter, love, and medication, seamlessly blending stand-up and storytelling in a way that creates a deep, poignant, and hilarious experience as wonderful as virtually anything currently playing on NYC stages—and that I’m guessing will end up as an HBO special, finally propelling Chris into the top tiers of show biz. Don’t miss this amazing show at The Lynn Redgrave Theater (45 Bleecker Street, right next to the #6 subway’s Bleecker Street stop): Chris Gethard: Career Suicide

[$] [DISCOUNTED] 8:00 pm; plus 2:00 pm matinees on Saturdays; or 3:00 pm & 7:00 pm on Sundays, through 1/15/17 ($37-$139; use code OHBOX111 for discounts): I haven’t seen this, so can’t comment on its merits; but you should be aware that two of the sharpest and funniest comics in the biz, John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, are performing as their old men characters in this Broadway show at the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street): Oh, Hello

 For many more shows, please click the following links to top NYC comedy venues:

Best Inexpensive Stand-Up, Improv, Sketch, and Storytelling

Upright Citizens Brigade Chelsea (307 West 26th Street): 150-seater; one of the most respected comedy theatres in the world; especially strong on improv, sketch, solo shows, and one-act comedic plays; shows free-$10

Upright Citizens Brigade East (153 East 3rd Street): 99-seater; a top comedy venue that focuses more than sister theatre UCB Chelsea on stand-up and screenings, and on experimental shows taking big risks; shows free-$10

The PIT Striker (Upstairs) Theatre (123 East 24th Street): 88-seater; a top venue that’s a powerful rival of UCB, and often surpasses UCB when blending comedy with music and/or theatricality; shows free-$20

The PIT Underground (Downstairs) Theatre (123 East 24th Street): 40-seater; often more quirky & experimental than upstairs Striker; shows free-$10

The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): 50-seater; not at the level of its two sister PIT theatres, but evolving; shows free-$10

The Magnet (254 West 29th Street): 60-seat theatre; strong on improv, musical improv, sketch, and energy; shows $5-$10

The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn; J/M/Z to Marcy or L to Lorimer): 50-seat theatre; spinning off from Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre, brings a fiercely fresh, experimental approach to improv and sketch; shows free-$10

The Creek and the Cave (Queens’ Long Island City): 40-seat theatre upstairs, 25 downstairs; virtually all shows free

Union Hall (702 Union Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street): 50-seat theatre; shows $5-$20

Littlefield (622 Degraw Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street): 100-seat theatre; shows $5-${20

Bell House (149 7th Street in Brooklyn; R to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Ave.): 200-seat theatre; shows $10-$25

QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue in Astoria Queens; N/Q to Ditmars Boulevard): 40-seat theatre; shows free-$10

Best NYC Stand-Up Comedy Clubs

Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street): Among the finest daily stand-up lineups in the world; 2-item min.

Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street): Comedy Cellar’s larger sister venue, just around the corner with the same top comics; 2-item min.

The Stand (239 Third Avenue): Recent competitor to Comedy Cellar; no drink min.—support this policy!

Carolines Comedy Club (1626 Broadway): Focuses on the world’s top headliners, who perform hour-long sets; 2-drink min.

Gotham Comedy Club (208 West 23rd Street): Headliners on weekends, specialty & lineup shows weekdays; 2-drink min.

Eastville Comedy Club (85 East 4th Street): Strong weekend lineups; no cover using code HyReviews; 2-drink min.

Greenwich Village Comedy Club (99 MacDougal Street): Convenient if Comedy Cellar’s sold out; no cover using code HyReviews; 2-drink min.

Comic Strip Live (1568 Second Avenue, off 81st): Upper East Side club with typically solid lineups; 2-drink min.

Stand Up NY (236 West 78th Street, off Broadway): Upper West Side club with typically solid lineups; 2-drink min.

The Standing Room (4738 Vernon Blvd., by #7 train; Queens LIC club): No drink min.—support this policy!

From legendary NYC comedy site Brooklyn Vegan: Thank God for Hy Bender’s religiously updated show bible BestNewYorkComedy.com…It must be exhausting keeping that monster of a website alive. It is your daily comedy itinerary and it scares me how on top of his shit this guy is.

For a desktop version of this site that includes more material—such as NYC theatre discounts and FringeNYC coverage—please click here.

Please feel encouraged to reach out to tell me about comedy shows, submit material to my short story anthology Ghosts on Drugs, or for any other reason by emailing me at hy@hyreviews.com.

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